8 Keys to Building a Successful Freelance Career Online

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

Follow these pro tips to stand out from the crowd and be the kind of freelancer that high-paying clients are looking for.

One of the biggest challenges that freelance professionals face in their quest to building a successful career is finding and keeping quality clients that pay well. The majority of freelancers find themselves spending more time pitching new clients instead of actually working.

The gig economy has attracted many highly-educated and experienced professionals seeking access to the many benefits of flexible working arrangements. However, as a result, there is a high level of competition—even among the top tier freelancers.

But, just because it's getting tough out there doesn't mean you should pack up and give up. There are certain practices and habits that successful freelancers all have in common. Follow these, and you'll be watching your career climb.

1. Having Powerful Profiles

Depending on your industry and field of expertise, you might be pitching clients via direct messages on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You may even be finding company websites and sending them emails. Or, perhaps you apply for jobs posted on marketplaces for ad-hoc gigs such as Conyac.

Wherever you are making contact with clients—or wherever they may be likely to discover you, it is crucial that you have a strong profile. What and how you present will differ depending on the platform and your target clients' interests.

If you're on LinkedIn, it can help to provide examples of projects and clients you have worked for in the past. Of course, don't break any non-disclosure agreements, but where possible, show examples of your best work.

Prospective clients need to be able to see your track record at a glance. This is where you demonstrate that you are qualified and have the expertise to take on their project.

Keep in mind that the best clients typically receive many applications and pitches. So, be sure to update your profile after each successfully completed project. You might be surprised to know how many of your past clients will occasionally check in to see what you've been up to–especially when they have another project in mind.

2. Offering Realistic Pricing

It goes without saying that one of the fastest ways to repel even long-term clients is asking for unrealistic rates for your services. If you work remotely, keep in mind that you're competing with service providers from around the world—many of having relatively low operational overheads.

Smart clients understand that excellent service from highly qualified experts costs money, but they are likely searching for help online precisely because they know they can find it for less cost than hiring a traditional brick-and-mortar service provider in their area.

3. Responding Quickly and Clearly

Clients greatly value freelancers who respond quickly to messages and communicate clearly. It also helps if you write in a way that feels friendly while still being professional.

If a client is in a hurry, then your responsiveness may be the factor that gets you the job. The quality of communication carries a lot of weight in building sustainable client-freelancer relationships.

Giving your clients multiple ways of contacting you can help them feel more at ease when there is critical and urgent work to be done.

4. Exceeding Expectations

Clients love it when freelancers give 100% in a project, even when the technicalities are demanding and taxing.

Another way of surpassing client expectations is by beating deadlines and factoring in time for final adjustments. Showing respect for the client's time constraints and delivering sooner than expected will help you get repeat business.

5. Requesting Feedback

It's easy to assume that as long as a client does not complain about the quality of our services that we must be doing everything perfectly. However, not all clients are vocal about their displeasure, and many prefer to avoid confrontation. Thus, it is essential to ask for feedback on a project, and, provided the client's concerns are reasonable, work to rectify any dissatisfaction on their side.

6. Honesty and Humility

If you make a mistake or are unable to meet the client's expectations, the client is not going to be happy. However, you may be surprised how forgiving they will be if you communicate proactively, explain the situation, and offer to make up for it. As long as you are sincere and care about pleasing the client, most clients want to see you succeed.

7. Separating Personal and Professional Online

Remember that any kind of unique information such as your name, nickname, username, profile picture (even if it doesn't show your face), and other items can make it easy to find the other places where you show up online.

Spend some time Googling yourself and cleaning up what people find—to the extent that you can. It may make sense to have one brand/persona for your personal life and another for your professional work. This way, what you spend your time doing in your private life doesn't need to color the impression that clients get when snooping around online to find out more about you.

8. Building a Professional Brand

Some freelancer marketplaces have strict rules against circumventing their platforms and contacting clients directly. However, limiting yourself to these marketplaces can be constructive.

One way around this is to make it easy for clients to find you by being consistent in your presentation. Use the same profile picture, username, bio copy, and other items so that you are easy to find and contact directly.


Keeping your clients happy and satisfied plays a huge role in the success and growth of your freelance business. Whether you are working directly or via a freelance job marketplace such as Conyac, mastering the art of attracting and retaining quality clients can set you up for a great career.

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About This Blog

Xtra.blog is a resource for freelancers including tips and advice on how to earn more, improve your skills, get better gigs, and live a balanced lifestyle.

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